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Kilcoo refuse to allow League fiasco to disrupt glory quest

By Declan Bogue

Published 15/11/2016

On the ball: Kilcoo’s Conor Laverty has acknowledged that getting past Slaughtneil will be a massive challenge
On the ball: Kilcoo’s Conor Laverty has acknowledged that getting past Slaughtneil will be a massive challenge

Any danger of Kilcoo being distracted from their Ulster club campaign by the ongoing mess caused by their expulsion from the Down League final has been emphatically dismissed on-field by their impressive dismantling of Maghery in Sunday's Ulster club semi-final.

As revealed in last Friday's Belfast Telegraph, 'The Magpies' have been denied the opportunity to play their league final against Castlewellan, even though they requested that the Down County Board fix it for tonight, a mere 48 hours after they were engaged in Ulster club action.

Last week, the Down County Board refused and indicated to the club that they have awarded the league title to Castlewellan.

The Down champions of the last five years are still hopeful that they will have the chance to do a league-championship double and lodged their appeal with the Ulster Council last Friday.

In camp, they have not let it become an issue, insists manager Paul McIver.

"As management and players, we haven't talked anything about the league final. That's left to the committee to sort out with the Down County Board and wherever else it's taken to," he said.

"We haven't mentioned it. We're in an Ulster Club Final, we're one of the top two teams in Ulster at the minute and that's where we want to be."

McIver also revealed that he allows his players a full week off after each championship match, before preparing for the next one. For Conor Laverty, the Gaelic Development Officer at Trinity College, that does not mean a week free from football.

His charges had a challenge match last night and are gearing everything towards a crucial Ryan Cup game against Sligo IT on Thursday.

With five consecutive Down Championships, the former Mourne captain hailed what is a special period in Kilcoo's history, rivalling the teams of the 1920's and 30's that claimed 10 championships over a 20 year period.

"This is an exciting time for the club," Laverty acknowledged.

"But the structures and the coaching that has gone on this past number of years in the club has benefitted us and is showing on the field of play."

Addressing an enquiry as to whether he is personally involved in establishing best practise in the club, he answered: "It's over 15, 20 years that the seeds of these coaching structures have been planted.

"There are great men down the line that have started this. There are a lot of young coaches in the club now trying to carry on the work."

For now, their attentions turn to the 2014 Ulster champions, coming out of Derry.

"Slaughtneil are an extremely good team. Their club has done terrific this year in all codes," he said.

"It is going to be a massive task because we know the challenge ahead of us."

He added: "This is where every team wants to be playing so we will enjoy the few weeks and we will work hard.

"We are looking forward to the challenge that Slaughtneil will pose."

Belfast Telegraph

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